Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress rose like a phoenix from the Singur and Nandigram movements chipping away at the hold of the Left Front to sweep into the portals of power in West Bengal after 34 years of uninterrupted Marxist rule.
The land agitation in Singur and Nandigram spearheaded by the Trinamool Congress chief is widely credited for Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s meteoric rise and the dramatic change in her political fortunes.
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The road, however, was not an easy one for the proponent of ‘Ma, Mati, Manush’ (Mother, Land, People).
In the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, the fledging Trinamool Congress, which had thrown in its lot with the BJP, won seven seats and the Congress which fought alone just one among the 42 in the state.
In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress won 8 seats increasing its tally by one and its alliance partner BJP 2, the Congress 3 and Left Front 29.
During NDA rule under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajapyee government, Banerjee became Railway Minister in 1999.
In 2000, Trinamool Congress won the Kolkata Municipal Corporation elections, with a non-left board taking charge for the first time in 20 years. In early 2001, she quit as railway minister and NDA following the Tehelka expose into defence deals.
What followed was the decline of the party.
Banerjee allied with the Congress for assembly elections in West Bengal in the 2001 assembly elections. The Trinamool contested 226 seats and won in just 60.
The downslide of the party did not stop and in 2003 panchayat elections Banerjee’s party could win only 16 of the 713 zilla parishad seats.
Events came to such a pass that Kolkata Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, Banerjee’s mentor and currently TC’s vice-president deserted the Trinamool Congress for the Congress.
Many had written off Banerjee when her party won just her own seat in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
More grief was to follow in the municipal elections a year later when the Trinamool Congress lost control of the prestigious Kolkata Municipal Corporation and retained only eight of the 126 urban local bodies.
In the 2006 assembly polls, the Trinamool Congress fought in alliance with BJP and cut a sorry figure winning only 29 out of 294 seats.
It was Banerjee who had first dubbed the Congress the “B team” of the Left Front accusing her parent party of not being serious about fighting LF big brother, CPI(M).
This resulted in Banerjee’s expulsion from the Congress on 22 December 1997.